Chef Tim Lopez spent 13 years on the grill cooking for the Philadelphia Eagles. He's cooked up culinary delights for everyone from the players, coaches, and staff. In the new season of Feeding the Birds, presented by Pepsi, Chef Tim takes you through the preparation for each and every meal, shares some of his favorite memories from over the years, and teaches some of the recipes that make 300-pound linemen rush to the cafeteria. Check out the episode guide below!
Feeding the Birds, Episode 1 – Setting the Scene
Before the pandemic, the NovaCare Complex cafeteria would serve as the location of "the largest family meal" that one could imagine.
And just like a family meal, everyone is sitting down to eat at once. It's not a restaurant where diners trickle in and there's an ebb and flow to the influx of orders. There is a mad rush several times throughout the course of the day.
Chef Tim Lopez had experience in the culinary industry before coming to the Eagles, but nothing would prepare him for his first meal service. Chef Tim takes you behind the scenes of the NovaCare Complex and recalls that first day on the job in the first episode of the new season.
And as a fan of the team, Chef Tim admits to being "star-struck" by players like Donovan McNabb, who had a special nickname for Chef Tim that lasted throughout the years. If you want to know what it is, check out the first episode now.
Feeding the Birds, Episode 2 – Breakfast with the Eagles
This is not an email that the culinary team wants to receive. When a breakfast staple was pulled from the menu several years ago, the players voiced their displeasure. Find out what that item was and learn what players like Brandon Graham and alumni like Pro Football Hall of Fame wide receiver Harold Carmichael like to eat for breakfast.
Feeding the Birds, Episode 3 – Lunch with the Eagles
What happens when you have an Eagles player plan the lunch menu?
The Player Spotlight Meal showcases the foods and food culture of the team. The meals open a small window into who these men are when they are not suited up on the field. These Wednesday lunches are a highlight meal of the week.
What do Sun Tzu and Chef Tim have in common? They are both all about getting into the mindset of your opponent. Chef Tim does this by serving up popular dishes from the cities where the Eagles are playing that week. If you eat Cincinnati's Skyline chili, the week you play the Bengals, chances are you are going to beat them!
And when your body is a temple and you need it to perform at the NFL level, do you ever get a cheat day when it comes to your diet? Listen to Episode 3 now.
Feeding the Birds, Episode 4 – Patio Dinners with the Eagles/Team Dinners
Cooking for the best team in the NFL really stretches a kitchen team's culinary creativity. Keep in mind that each meal needs to provide the right balance of nutrients and fuel. It is the top priority of the NovaCare Complex kitchen team to help players achieve their diet goals, but as professional chefs, it's in their DNA to pile on the flavor and push culinary limits.
When you cook three meals a day, seven days a week, for the same people, you want to carve out something out of the routine. Wednesday and Thursday night dinners are the chance to give the players and coaches some Michelin-star treatment. Now, we aren't talking white linens and polished cutlery, but we are talking high-end ingredients prepared in unexpected ways.
Patio Dinners are a Wednesday night staple at the NovaCare Complex Cafeteria. Delicious meats and seafood grilled to perfection rain or shine. Can you guess how many grilled oysters the team can eat over the course of one of these meals, and which player is the biggest fan?
On Thursdays, who can resist a themed dinner – certainly not the Eagles. The team travels to Brazilian steakhouses and New England beachside crab boils without leaving Pattison Avenue.
And if you are looking for a decadent side dish to whip up, look no further than "crack potatoes," so you can eat like an Eagle tonight!
Feeding the Birds, Episode 5 – Pizza
Pizza! We could probably just stop the description of this episode right here, but, of course, there is an Eagles' spin on this team favorite.
Tucked in the corner of the kitchen is a gas-powered pizza oven. It can handle five to six pies at a time. The toppings run the gamut from your traditional items, pepperoni and sausage to more gourmet, black truffle and runny egg – the go-to combo for Chairman/CEO Jeffrey Lurie.
This pizza oven has quite the origin story. It even involves a member of the kitchen team being sent on a grand pizza field trip to learn his pie-making technique from a master all the way in ... Brooklyn.
It was so popular that the nutrition team had to step in and slow the team's pizza intake. It was a sad day at the NovaCare Complex Cafeteria, but pizza ovens can be used for cooking all sorts of tasty dishes.
Feeding the Birds, Episode 6 – Pre-Game Meals
It's gameday in Philadelphia. While you might be finalizing your tailgating menu – dreaming of your loaded nachos or out buying your secret spice for your gameday wings – preparations are underway at the NovaCare Complex Cafeteria, cooking the food that will lead to victory.
Gameday meals are the one day during the week that a player's diet is highly regulated. The menus are designed and overseen by the kitchen nutrition team. There is still the variety and flavor players expect, but certain tweaks are made to give each player what they need to get through the game.
Sadly, there is no pre-game gorging on local specialties when the team is on the road. Members of the nutrition team travel with the Birds to ensure the same dietary requirements are met wherever guys are. In fact, being able to provide the controlled menu is a requirement for any hotel. The pressure!
Have mayonnaise, will travel. That was the motto of the food staff who accompanied the team to London in 2018 to play the Jacksonville Jaguars. The comforts of home were shipped ahead of time, so on gameday at Wembley Stadium, there were a few familiar (jars) faces.
If you are an athlete on any level, this episode will give you some ideas of how you can eat to win, even if it's a victory of getting off the sofa!
Feeding the Birds, Episode 7 – Sandwiches
Some at the NovaCare Complex might argue that the sandwich is the true winner of the lunchtime rush. It's hyper-customizable and you can run out the door with it. Of course, this being the Eagles, it's not just a ham on wheat, oh no, it's whatever your stomach desires.
And the sandwiches all come with nicknames – there's the Wolfpack and the J-Matt. Each player and staff member have a special spin on a sandwich and the kitchen team is there to accommodate the request.
If a coach wants his ham and cheese warm, but his bun untoasted – it can be done. If a player wants a burger piled with fries and cheese on his cheat day – order up – with no judgment!
Plus, Chef Tim was tasked with creating a sandwich to represent a few Eagles players, so if you are wondering, what a sandwich version of Carson Wentz might be, listen to this to get your answer!
Feeding the Birds, Episode 8 – The Smoker
In 2017, the Eagles acquired a game-changer. No, it wasn't on the field. It was in the kitchen – a double-barreled smoker. Chef Tim takes you through what it was like before the smoker arrived on the campus of the NovaCare Complex and how it helped enhance one of the fun, weekly cooking experiences for the players, coaches, and staff.